Sharks streak past Desert Dogs in shootout

Thearon W. Henderson

In a tight, occasionally terrifying game, the Sharks took down the Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout for their fourth straight victory.

The Tank was electric tonight, cheering on the Sharks as they eked out a 3-2 shootout win against the Phoenix Coyotes. Coming off three straight wins and three good efforts, the fans never stopped being behind the boys in teal, even though the Sharks never led until the shootout.

Before the game, we found out that Jason Demers had been injured and would be out of the game. That meant Brent Burns went back to the blueline (eh), and Adam Burish took Burns spot on the top line (ugh). Despite what was reported in practice, the pairings were Irwin-Boyle, Stuart-Burns, and Vlasic-Braun.

With shutouts in his previous two starts, Antti Niemi found himself a huge round of applause when he stepped between the pipes. The fourth line of James Sheppard, Scott Gomez and Andrew Desjardins earned the start, and would continue to be counted on by the coaching staff, earning about 13 minutes of ice time.

The Sharks came hard out of the gate and were manhandling Phoenix for most of the first period. It would be the Coyotes who would strike first, though. Rob Klinkahmmer took a puck from behind the net and bounced it off of Neimi on a wraparound. Boyd Gordon grabbed the loose puck and roofed it over Niemi for the goal. 1-0 Coyotes - Gordon from Klinkhammer and Morris at 14:43 of the first.

Phoenix seemed to control the tempo for most of the rest of the first period, and a good portion of the second. It seemed like the Coyotes put a lot more pressure on the puck carrier from that point on. The Sharks did get some chances though, including a dangerous rebound off of Jason LaBarbera that the third line couldn't quite put home.

Rob Klinkhammer (great name, by the way) caught Braun with a highstick at 7:59 that gave the Sharks a four minute power-play. I don't know, maybe power-play doesn't convey just how good the Sharks looked on the man advantage. Anyway, on their domination-play, San Jose peppered the net with chances. First unit, second unit, it didn't matter. LaBarbera was frustrating good for a while though. On one of the two clears the Coyotes got, Patrick Marleau had a beautiful entry to regain the zone. He dropped it for Thornton as he crossed the line, who proceeded to throw it back to Pavelski for a blast that found its way past LaBarbera. 1-1 tie - Pavelski from Thornton and Marleau at 10:24 of the second. San Jose continued with some good pressure, and had a 23-19 shot advantage after two periods.

As the third period started, it seemed like the Sharks were still in the dressing room. Tommy Wingels and the Sharks left the slot wide open for Radim Vrbata, who found a pass and threw one off the pads of Niemi. The rebound came right back to him and he deposited it in the net. 2-1 Coyotes - Vrbata from Doan and Schlemko at 0:33 of the third.

The Sharks continued to look sloppy for quite a bit. They were trying to force passes through the neutral zone that Phoenix had clogged up. San Jose continued getting some chances though, but couldn't quite connect. Notably, Ryane Clowe had a huge one-timer from the faceoff dot, but LaBarbera just got a piece.

Later, with about five minutes left in the period, in the midst of a scramble in front of the net, Couture tried to set up Marleau backdoor on a no-look pass behind him, but the puck just got by Patty. It looked like that may end up haunting the team in their dreams that night, but they'd come back with another great chance about thirty seconds later - and convert on it. Marc-Edouard Vlasic would take a shot from the point and track down the rebound while jumping up into the play. He'd move behind the net, pass to Pavelski, get it back and wraparound for the Sharks second goal of the game. 2-2 tie - Vlasic from Pavelski and Boyle at 15:00 of the third.

Phoenix had a late push in the last few minutes of regulation, but the Sharks kept them out of the net and forced overtime. Patrick Marleau nearly had another goal on a redirection from Burns with just under two minutes left in OT, but again, was just a bit off. San Jose nearly gave away the game twice on awful turnovers in their own zone by Thornton and Clowe, but somehow escaped both those giveaways. With 12.6 seconds left in overtime, Ryane Clowe took the team's only penalty, setting up a wild finish to overtime. With the game on the line, Logan Couture sprawled out to block a point shot, sending the game to the shootout.

Couture scored the only marker in the skills competition, although Dan Boyle just missed on a beautiful attempt that would have been on every highlight reel this year. Niemi had a couple big stops as the Sharks took the win. Shootout: 1-0 SJ. Final score: Sharks 3, Phoenix 2.

  • Although surprisingly a bit shaky in the defensive zone, the pairing of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun seemed very aggressive and effective in the offensive zone.
  • Ryane Clowe was absolutely snake-bit tonight, as usual. He's had so many good chances, but has either been robbed or had a bounce go the wrong way. Honestly, the guy should have 4-5 goals right now based off the games he's had.
  • Nothing Adam Burish did tonight was awful, but the top line looked pretty ineffective all night. Hopefully the coaching staff moves Burns back to forward next game.
  • If that is the case, that would mean Matt Tennyson would be taking his spot on the blueline. If he does get in the next game, Tennyson would become the first Jr. Shark to ever play for the San Jose Sharks.

FTF 3 Stars

1st star: Joe Pavelski
2nd star: Jason LaBarbera
3rd star: Marc-Edouard Vlasic

With the win, the Sharks climbed back up to legitimate .500 (17-11-6). They'll try for a winning record on Monday when the future division rival Vancouver Canucks come to HP. Go Sharks!
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